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Critique of imperial reason: Lessons from the Zhuangzi

Kwek, Dorothy H. B. 2019. Critique of imperial reason: Lessons from the Zhuangzi. Dao 18 (3) , pp. 411-433. 10.1007/s11712-019-09673-4

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It has often been said that the Zhuangzi 莊子 advocates political abstention, and that its putative skepticism prevents it from contributing in any meaningful way to political thinking: at best the Zhuangzi espouses a sort of anarchism, at worst it is “the night in which all cows are black,” a stance that one scholar has charged is ultimately immoral. This article tracks possible political allusions within the text, and, by reading these against details of social, political, and historical context, sheds light on another strand of the Zhuangzi—one that questions prevailing normative values because it is fiercely critical of scholarly complicity with violent imperial territorial consolidation.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Department of Politics and International Relations (POLIR)
Publisher: Springer Verlag
ISSN: 1540-3009
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 16 October 2018
Date of Acceptance: 11 August 2018
Last Modified: 02 Sep 2019 13:50

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